Campus Kitchen to support elderly through grant

AARP awards Campus Kitchen with grant

Sam Bramlett

Stomachs are now fuller around Lexington thanks to the work of  Washington and Lee’s Campus Kitchen, which recently received a $5,000 grant from the American Association of Retired Persons to help the hungry among Rockbridge area’s elderly population.

The grant money will be used to fund the mobile food pantry, which will allow the Campus Kitchen to reach many more food insecure elderly people in Rockbridge County and Buena Vista. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the term food insecure is defined as “consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.”

“[The mobile food pantry] used to happen once a month but recently it’s been happening once a week,” Campus Kitchen group leader Hale King, ‘16, said. “Just getting the food for that is pretty expensive so the awarded funds will help a lot.”

The funds also allow Campus Kitchen to do more work at assisted living homes, such as running bingo games and serving in food kitchens for elderly of the area.

“We have recruited a lot of adults in Rockbridge area without much effort,” Co-Curricular Service Coordinator and Head of W&L Campus Kitchen Jenny Davidson said. “There’s a high percentage of seniors in the area because people retire here. We have a lot of outreach, we’re reaching out to the entire community and senior citizens are coming by nature of that.”

Campus Kitchen started nine years ago, and since then it has worked its way up to being able to provide food for 1,000 food insecure families in Lexington and Roanoke.  That is 25 percent of the total food insecure families in the area.

“We’ve served over 200,000 meals since we started in 2006,” Davidson said. “It wasn’t always this way but now in a given year, we serve around 30,000 meals.”

While Campus Kitchen is headed by Davidson, it is a mostly student-run organization.

Hunger in the area has been a difficult problem to address due to the rural environment and lack of adequate facilities to support the hungry, but the enthusiasm and dedication of the students allows Campus Kitchen to feed a quarter of the hungry in and around Lexington and Rockbridge County.

Although Campus Kitchen does it’s part well to provide for the people, many W&L students are unaware of how prevalent hunger is in the area.

“At W&L, you really do live in a bubble,” Chloe Doto, ‘16, said. “You don’t think that kind of stuff exists outside of here, but when you get involved with volunteering in the community, you realize that there are people really in need of help in our area.”

The Campus Kitchen is now preparing for its Summer Backpack Program, which will use the mobile food pantry, as well as the funds from the grant and the new members they’ve recruited, to continue supporting food insecure families even while W&L students are away.